Six on Saturday

One of the many positives of gathering together a Six on Saturday is the way it helps pin down the weather and its patterns. When  growing up I couldn’t completely understand the fixation my Welsh farming mother had on this. But I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night for lambing or worry about healthy hay. Now in the middle of England and not near a wet and windy coast, I  have my own harvest to grow: flowers for a wedding. A long way off, but March’s cold delay means I am not feeling as relaxed about it as  in February. So keen weather watching has begun.

That leads me into number one, the small patch used for growing flowers in my friends’ large field. Its heavy clay was too dank and cold to work until this week when the sun came out. Out too have popped the nettles and docks, but yesterday weeding them with warmth on my back it was difficult to mind.

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The beginnings of weeding

Next is another outside my own garden – a trip to Hidcote. Perhaps too early for my partner as not so much to see, but for me looking at the early Spring bulbs and the paths and supports in the Kitchen garden was satisfying enough – lots of ideas to take home. As well as a few plants…

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Not sure if I can replicate this cat’s cradle for my flowers.

My clashing primulas are a source of pleasure everyday on the steps outside the kitchen. Dunberg and Valentine need to be kept apart, but they are eye catchingly cheerful.

It may be getting late to include daffodils (or narcissus); perhaps for most people the baton has firmly been given to  tulips, but this week old and new favourites have finally bloomed. Hawera is a new one for me and daintily beautiful. Thalia is an old love and, yes, they have been a bit beaten by the weather (and probably the slugs too), but that wouldn’t stop me having a whole garden of them and maybe next year I will.

Fifth is a pot I found lurking, forgotten at the back of the greenhouse under a shelf. A martagon lily, Claude Shride which seems to have flourished in neglect.

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It is often frustrating to recognise what an absent minded gardener I can be. Sometimes though there can be happy unintended accidents. So I did mean to plant up the smaller pot with tulips and Sweet Williams, but when the Autumn grown coriander plugs were slipped into a large pot, the tulip bulbs underneath had been forgotten. Never mind, they seem to have made room for each other quite well. Much more intended gardening over at the Propagator’s blog where the ever increasing Sixers share their gardening knowledge generously.

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Six on Saturday

So wet surely the ground cannot soak up any more water, but still it rains. Not sure I should contribute this Saturday in my current mood of sulky gloominess, but here goes with a more than slightly soggy Six.

But first a cheerful, hopeful start indoors with a book, bought this week, that I hope is going to kickstart an improvement in the planning of my garden: Christopher Lloyd’s ‘Succession Planting’. Bought after attending an absolutely brilliant and inspiring talk by Fergus Garrett about planting for all year interest at Great Dixter. Too busy concentrating on the beautiful slides of that garden to take many notes, so that’s where the book comes in. There are too many stuttering gaps with not much interest at all in my own garden and I am hoping that I can learn how to improve this. A long term project.

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Next up are, on the edge of flowering and guaranteed to cheer me up, the anemone blanda snug in their terracotta pots and taking  temporary shelter from the rain in the greenhouse.

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Also in there are the various tender plants that have multiplied beyond the capacity of my windowsills. Chillies Joe’s Long Cayenne and Submarine;  the small aubergine Slim Jim and cigar length cucumber Diva along with tomatoes, Stupicke, Black Krim, Sungold and Principe Borghese  Just hoping they spurt into more solid growth when (or if) the weather improves.

 

Surviving, despite the wet and cold, are the surprisingly healthy looking small plants of Iceland poppy. Tentatively sown in the Autumn from a packet of old seed, they have survived my consistent Winter neglect and when the ground is a little more welcoming, it will be time to plant them out.

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Five are the quick growing Cosmos Dazzler which will soon need potting on. Their deep and lovely pink is a real favourite late in Summer.

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Finally are the unexpected buds of tulips planted for cut flowers two years ago which seemed to have disappeared, but here they are in the corner of a bed. Of course, can’t remember what they are called, but it doesn’t really matter as I am sure they will look absolutely lovely, especially if the now absent sun comes back to shine on them. Many more cheerful Sixes at The Propagator I’m sure, if you make your way over there – you won’t even need your wellies.

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Six on Saturday

A milder and definitely more Spring like feel to this week’ s Six after another white out last Saturday. Not a promising start to my  Farmers Market year, travelling there through snow and ice. Today there is rain so the almond blossom won’t have a blue sky to intensify it. So here then are my garden related Six. There will be many other fine Sixes to enjoy if you follow the links at The Propagator.

So first is the early and delicate pink of the almond blossom which is simply beautiful even in the grey of today.

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Next are forget me nots the first among the selfseeders which are allowed too much of their own way in my garden, but there are times when they are just right despite their unruliness. And that time is coming soon. There is a narrow window between the forget me nots being a dreamlike blue haze covering up all the garden’s inadequacies before turning into a smothering carpet. A gardening friend cannot stand them, but I can forgive them anything for the week or two when they are perfect.

Another beautiful Spring plant which is choosing to multiply enthusiastically in the back corner of the garden is lunaria corfu blue grown from seed bought from Special Plants. Usually it teams up with the lovely cow parsley-like chaerophyllum, but this year they are going to miss each other I think.

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The last self seeder for today is the angelica which went and now has come back. Still making up my mind whether I want it to stay.

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Fifth are the germinating cucumber seeds –  the diva variety which are small, tasty and prolific if the sun shines on them.

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Last of all, is a problem: the yew which was a greedy buy last year when it somehow popped itself into the van as I was helping a friend pick up her larger and grander yews from the beautiful Waterperry. Had no plan for it, though was vaguely hoping for the organic  soft mounded effect much admired in a Malvern Show garden a few years ago where it seemed to fit in so well. So far it hasn’t moved from the big pot it was placed in  when I got it home. Desperate to give it a purpose, it was dressed in tiny sparkling lights at Christmas, but can’t think where to put it in my ramshackle, informal (aka messy) garden and certainly have no idea or skill  to help turn it into piece of topiary. But it can’t stay in its pot forever.
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A green Six this week, but the small splashes of colour are promises of brighter days.

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Plotting a Wedding

Recently I was offered my first chance to grow wedding flowers and with some (realistic) trepidation have accepted. So now the planning begins. What a responsibility, but how exciting to have a definite focus to work towards. Just what I need as Spring is so stubbornly refusing to cooperate. The date is early August so this should give me lots of time for planning  and successional sowing once I have decided exactly what it is I should grow.

The brief from my daughter’s lovely friend is very open, but definitely must include cornflowers – lucky then that I already have  Autumn and early Spring planted plants. Will just need to keep this going.

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Lets hope this year’s cornflowers are as lovely as last

Couldn’t sleep on the first night after taking up the offer for thinking about  larkspur and nigella. Almost got up in the dark to sow some. In daylight, it was clear that some calm planning was necessary. Even a mood board perhaps – never done one in my life, but now might be the moment. Want to give the bride an idea of the different possibilities before it is too late to sow them. So far, along with the cornflowers, nigella & larkspur (white and blue) I am thinking dill and ammi (I do have some Autumn sown in pots) and fail safe cosmos. Also hoping that I will be able to keep my sweetpeas going until then.

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Cosmos Dazzler

But what about the impact flower? Possibilities include dahlias, roses if they are still flowering at the plot and sunflowers.

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Roses at the plot

Stuck indoors with the last of the snow lingering, I sent off a flurry of seed orders. The very opposite of the careful planning that was needed. Scabiosa in all its guises seems to be my current obsession and the sturdy, Autumn sown Black Cat and (perhaps more appropriate for a wedding) Blue Cushion plants give a head start.

So over four months of planning, propagating and plotting to go which is a very fine prospect indeed.

 

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Six on Saturday

This is a whirlwind Six before setting off on a trip. Mild and damp outside, it couldn’t be more different from last Saturday’s white out. The elastic resilience of plants has amazed me. Last week bent down with heavy snow, there seemed to be no hope for the hellebores or daffodils, but they have popped right back up. Apart from sowing some seeds hopefully in the greenhouse and pricking out, there wasn’t any real gardening to be done last week, so damagingly for my bank account, I had too much time to buy plants and seeds. And, excitingly, they have arrived already.

So first up is the lovely, double primula, Dawn Ansell. Not something I would have liked a few years ago, but now have a dangerously soft spot for pretty plants like this,(though the common primrose which spreads around the garden is still the favourite). Am hoping this purchase will be the mother plant for lots of offspring over the years. Or is that just an excuse?

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Next are the slightly ragged auriculas which were given shelter in the greenhouse and are producing buds despite looking a little off colour. This is another plant I have changed my mind about.

Third are the sweetpeas plants which are pretty much everywhere there is a flat space. Pricking them out is a constant of my week and there are still lots to go. In the time of snow, when I wasn’t thinking as straight as I should, even ordered more seed. Like the tomatoes and chillies, they are mounting a takeover. White Mrs Collier and Royal Wedding along with brights like Barry Dare and Blue Velvet are looking  perky despite being kept outside now to toughen up.

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In the corner of the garden, the quince is almost glowing and promises to soon unwrap its beautiful and very slightly blowsy blooms. It has never produced fruit, despite us having it for ages whereas my allotment quince was laden after two years. It doesn’t really matter, as the blossom is worth it on its own.

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Fifth is the resilient achillea Cerise Queen which was neglected on the potting bench outside to cope with everything Winter had in its arsenal and has survived it all looking green and healthy.

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Last of all are the muscari armeniacum bulbs which seemed to coming up blind, but there they are are showing hopeful tiny buds. And that seems to suit today.

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There may be persistent rain to come here over the next week, but the warmth this morning and the length of the light, are definite signs that we are moving away from winter.

Please take a look at the The Propagator for a growing number of excellent Sixes.

 

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Six on Saturday

Lets be honest if it was difficult last week to find a different Six, this week it is teetering on the impossible. The real blanket on the ground, close schools and make the road outside your house impassable snow only arrived softly and slowly on Thursday. Now, on Saturday, it has got all my garden under its grip and there isn’t much to see apart from its whiteness. But I am not going to miss my Six again so here goes, with apologies for the sparseness and possible repetition.

First of all and surprisingly healthy considering it has overwintered on my draughty windowsill is the brilliant, bright red of pelargonium, Stadt Bern, bought as a small plant from Derry Watkins’ Special Plants and potted on. I love it so much that I bought another by mistake a few months later. I have at least managed to get a cutting from it to survive the Winter. Its leaves are still dull and not Spring fresh, but it’s alive.

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Next is the everyday loveliness of narcissus Tete a Tete; before the snow came this flower was bent over and frozen so picked it. A few hours later, it had perked up and cheered me up. Pretty sure you can’t have too many of these. Now all my other daffodils are bent over and weighted down with snow. Hope they bounce back up too once its gone.

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Third is a bit of a cheat – another pelargonium. This time a cutting of Salmon(maybe)Queen which is hanging on indoors waiting for some warmth. Took this at a propagation workshop so am looking forward to seeing what it looks like.

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Number 4 are the tender seedlings, sheltering on the kitchen table waiting to be potted on. The compost in the greenhouse is too cold and would probably see them off. I am waiting for tomorrow when everyone else is out for the day to do some furtive potting on the kitchen table. Slim Jim aubergine, Principe Borghese tomatoes and Submarine chillies will all be moved into their own small pots. Then the real challenge will be where to put them…

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Fifth is the delicate and beautiful acer just outside our kitchen window. As with many of the plants in the garden, its name is long forgotten and I am not even sure we realised that it would provide interest on every single day of the year when we bought it. It has fresh green leaves in spring, fiery Autumn colour and these wonderful red stems in Winter and we don’t have to make any effort to see it.

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Last of all is not a plant, but my very trusty and useful small white van which we bought when the car finally died. The regular sprinklings of soil in the boot of our last shared car, along with tools and sometimes an odd plant was a source of  regular disappointment to my partner. Now, how wonderful to have a van where all that is legitimate and where I can fit all my farmers market plants without having to shove boxes on the passenger seats.

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But today it is not going anywhere.  Lots of time then to enjoy other people’s Sixes  with thanks to The Propagator.

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Six on Saturday

Difficult to feel that there is an abundance of choice for this week’s Six on Saturday with the ground frozen, plants stopped in their tracks and newly emerging seeds looking regretful. Here in this garden a new bout of Winter isn’t welcome. The snowdrops are almost past their best; some of the hellebores are looking strained and much of the garden is pretty desolate. Nevertheless, I am determined not to miss a Six two Saturdays in a row – so here goes (with thanks to The Propagator).

Number 1 is Puschkinia ,  a new bulb for this year. Wasn’t sure I was going to like it in its emerging stage when the flowers looked as if they were going to be  too squat, but today in sun and cold it has grown into itself and looks satisfyingly fresh and starry, though it still has some growing to go.

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Not fully out, but already very pretty

Number 2 is the stalwart vinca which just pops up her and there along the back fence; today it has a couple of new blue flowers to look at the sun.

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Next, protected in the greenhouse from last night’s freeze,  are the newly emerging tips of my Havel peas, bought from Real Seeds and destined for the allotment. Am hoping to get organised enough to get  a continuous supply of peas this summer – Oskar is next for sowing. It is almost certain that all of them will be eaten fresh from the pod and not make the pot.

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Fourth is the plant which has given me the most joy this Winter – the winter flowering honeysuckle. It certainly doesn’t look showstopping, but its scent stops me in my tracks almost every day. The bees luxuriate in it too.

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Fifth might have appeared before so apologies, but am surprised, considering their neglect, to have so many small penstemon plants growing healthily from cuttings. This one is Alice Hindley.

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Last is the reappearing tarragon. Shoved in the greenhouse over winter it is coming back tender and green.

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So that was my six and once I started looking of course there was a lot more going on than I thought.

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